Selling artifact from Titanic makes history nut go crazy


“Violin that played as Titanic sank to go on sale.”

That’s the sort of headline that immediately grabs my attention. Having studied the story of the Titanic for almost a decade, that’s the kind of story to get the history nerd inside me excited.

I’m not a history buff by any means — I’m just more intrigued by many historical events than others, the story of the Titanic being one of them.

The Titanic struck an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. One of the most famous parts of the sinking is the story of the ship’s band.

The band played music on the ship’s deck as it sank in order to keep passengers calm as they boarded the lifeboats. None of the musicians survived the sinking.

It’s often said the band played “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” as their last song before the ship took its final plunge into the Atlantic Ocean.

In James Cameron’s 1997 film “Titanic,” the band’s story is shown as bandmaster Wallace Hartley and his colleagues play music while passengers board lifeboats to escape the doomed liner. Hartley and the band are shown performing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” before Hartley proclaims, “Gentlemen, it has been a privilege playing with you tonight,” as the ship starts to make its final plunge.

The story of the band has been one of the most intriguing parts of the Titanic’s story to me. For them to willingly play music for the passengers as the ship sank, and not save themselves, make them heroes in my eyes. They willingly went down with the ship, serving their passengers until the ship slipped beneath the surface.

A violin believed to have been played by Hartley was auctioned off last Saturday for more than 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) in London. The buyer wished to remain anonymous.

Too bad I don’t have millions of dollars just lying around, waiting to be spent. If I did, it’s a safe bet that I would have been that anonymous bidder. To have an artifact from the most well-known ship disaster of all time would be a dream come true. I can dream, can’t I?